Simon, please introduce yourself to our readers real quick.
Hi, I'm ScHnibL0r aka Simon Münz. I am 20 years old, just graduated from High School, and I am currently out and about in Australia.
What exactly are you doing in Australia?
I am on vacation. Ackebonnie is also here by the way, and there's four of us traveling around.
How and when did you get into Starcraft?
A few older buddies used to organize LAN parties and at some point I joined them. They played Starcraft, later also Broodwar, and then at some point, once we had internet, we played over a 56K-modem. We did that for almost half a year though muchomaps, before starting with lowmaps. After many sessions and thanks to my ambition I then turned out to be pretty good.
So you are pretty popular in the Starcraft scene?
I am perhaps mostly known through the GIGA and EPS seasons. I did pretty well in some of them and I was even on TV.
How did you practice, or to put it differently, why are you better than other players?
I practiced by simply playing a whole lot. At first I just played against the WGTOUR-ladder and then more and more against other good players. I also specifically prepared myself against other opponents.
So you kept getting better because you worked hard?
At some point a new PGTOUR-ladder came out which allowed you to play really good Koreans. There were more and more tournaments in which I participated and in which I could gain experience. This made me rise to a high level. But the only way to true success is probably mostly the motivation and ambition I have. Talent and cleverness are surely part of it, but almost every person can become someone if he is motivated and works hard on himself.
Why did you quit Starcraft?
There are many reasons for it. I started with poker, which took up a lot of time, and it would have taken me 10 hours a day to reach a higher level at Broodwar. That just wasn’t possible anymore.
When and how did you start playing poker?
The first time I heard about poker was when I went to the WCG Germany Finals 2005 in Tübingen with two friends. I did not know anything about the game before then. Some Broodwar-players organized a poker game there, but I did not participate. I just talked to IBS.Blue about poker and he said it was quite lucrative and that some Broodwar-players were pretty successful at it. The game sounded pretty interesting, which is why, about a month later, in October 2005, after I did not feel like playing BW anymore, I started to play poker with the starting capital at PokerStrategy.com
How did your career develop after that? Were there similarities to your Starcraft-career?
For the first three months until January I did not take the game very seriously, but I played a lot because I simply liked it. I wasn’t really motivated to read, though, which is probably why I dropped to $25 after making it up to $900. After that I did not feel like playing poker for a while. But then I went to a poker seminar with IPS.Blue in Münster to try and steal some of Korn’s and Matthias Wahl’s knowledge. But that didn’t work out as I was either asleep or did not understand a thing. But it still helped me cause afterwards a small sense of achievement and poker stories helped me gain motivation to play poker. I also started to enjoy wanting to work on my game.
There are similarities to my Starcraft-career in the sense that I became a good player both times pretty quickly, which I credit to my endurance and my ambition. In January after the seminar I got up to $3000 at poker, and for the first time I tried $5/$10 shots (trips to a higher level), which turned bad, however. Later I started to play short-handed (a maximum of six players at a table), because many said that this was easier and you could make money faster. It is also more fun and the full ring got pretty annoying after a while.
From February until May I kept playing $1/$2 and $5/$10, sometimes also $10/$20 but my ups and downs were somewhat big, probably due to my tilt-susceptibility (being irritable/agitated and hence playing badly) and my preference to not stick to the bankrollmanagement.
Nevertheless I still got to cash out some money, which was plenty for me as a student. On the eve of May 1st, I made the mistake of putting a $15/$30 shot on almost $4000, which then shrank to $750 because I just couldn’t stop. You just want to make money as quickly as possible.
Anyway, after that things advanced pretty quickly. I recovered rather quickly, with the help of some other high rollers (players who play high limits), who had similar problems, and most of all thanks to Rifter, who mentally supported me and always watched my game.
In September I then went from $10/$20 to $100/200 and for half a year I played all limits from $10/$20 to $100/$200 always with huge swings due to shots and tilt. Since the beginning of this year I have luckily become more resistant to tilt (meaning more even-tempered) and I have become aware that to take a shot is -ev (negative expected value) and I now play almost all limits up to $300/$600. Altogether you can say that despite some drawbacks, I advanced pretty quickly, which I am quite happy about.
And which similarities do you see between poker and Starcraft in general?
When you look at all the non-Korean Broodwar-Pros, which are now successful at poker, e.g. Rekrul Nazgul, Korn, etc. it is to say that there must be similarities between Starcraft and poker. I am not sure what they are though. The reason might be that at Starcraft you have to play a lot and you have to be ambitious to get to the top as in every sport. And Starcraft is a game where you have to think at least somewhat strategically and where you occasionally have to speculate about what your opponent thinks about etc. These are all characteristics which are very useful at Poker. The most important factor is the motivation and ambition to be at the very top. All of the Broodwar-Pros have carried this over to Poker, which is why they are so successful now.
Other similarities between Poker and SC are probably the necessary concentration, quick problem solving within a short time period, the use of strategies under time pressure, the prediction of game results, and quick “forgetting” of game results, which you cannot influence anymore. Starcraft players are also able to multi-task and are hence able to play many tables at once, which results in a quicker advancement.
How much time do you invest into poker and „studying” besides playing?
Looking back I have probably spent about 5 hours a day studying and playing Poker, even though I played much more than I studied which is not that good. Of course there were times when I played more, and also times when I played less, downswings, such as Abitur, or the Australia vacation now.
You also invested a lot of time into Starcraft, but now tell us: How much can you make playing high limits at poker compared to being a Starcraft-programmer?
First it is to say that you certainly can’t compare poker with Broodwar what money is concerned, excluding Korea. You can’t really make money at Starcraft outside of Korea. Compared to Korean Starcraft-programmers, you can still make much more at poker though. If you assume a winning rate of 1 big blind per every 100 hands, which is completely doable at high limits, then, at four tables which you play simultaneously, meaning approximately 400 hands per hour, you would have 4BB per hour.
That calculates to $800 per hour at a limit of $100/$200, $1600 at $200/400, etc. If you play 8 hours a day, and programmers probably work more, than you’d make $10,000 a day and 3 million a year, which is an amount not even a Starcraft-legend like Boxer can earn. Poker is a game with sings though and therefore does not provide a steady income, which might pose a problem to some players.
To end this interview we would like a few short suggestions from you for the readers. If a beginner wanted to start at Starcraft, what would you suggest to him to become good? And what would your advice to him be regarding the start of poker?
If anyone wants to seriously start with Starcraft and wants to become successful, which is something I would not recommend since first of all Starcraft2 is to be released soon, and second of all the game is not as popular as it used to be outside of Korea, then he should try to learn how to lose, and to use this knowledge for the better. Try things out, watch replays, and play play play.
I would advise a beginner at Poker, who seriously wants to make money with the game, to start off reading a lot and to become acquainted with the basics. Later on he should keep thinking about his game and try to improve it. The best way to do this is to watch other players and have more advanced players watch him, to discuss hands and different situations, and to simply ask questions.
You can also shorten the learning process by just registering at PokerStrategy.com. Sorry about the product placement, but I did it the same way and I’m not the only one. I would suggest reading all of the articles for beginners, taking the quiz, playing a bit of poker to get into the routine, reading, posting hands into the forum and rating them, and reading about the most informative sample hands. Well, just visit the coachings and watch the videos. Read a lot, play a lot, discuss poker with many different players, and think a lot and always question everything, etc. In short, understand the game, make big bucks, be a poker pro. That’s how it pretty much works. And the most important advice at last: Learn as early as possible to deal with beats (losing a hand out of bad luck even though you played it well). Don’t even start to tilt (get angry) and stick to the bankrollmanagement from PokerStrategy.com. That saves you nerves, time, and money.
Thank you for the interview, Simon. Simon.